In my final year of College the continuing joke between my friends and myself was: “so, are you considering teaching then?” This was followed closely by at-home sniggering. All of us thought we’d much loftier goals then and teaching was not among these. In reality, nothing was farther from my thoughts than becoming a teacher.
But within a fortnight of my graduation day that all changed. Bereft of some short-term thoughts, I joined a few friends on a volunteering trip to Romania, and it was through travel that a teacher was created. Initially I was there in an admin capacity and it was just when one of the younger teachers got cold feet that I was asked to walk together with and chat to some of the 27 pupils. They had been 15 year-olds, I was like a year 10 tutor from another world to them. I had been terrified. I adored it.
In the conclusion of the first week that they took me out into the neighborhood museum to tell me all about their city’s history. It had been on my 30th birthday and they sang their version of Happy Birthday for me. I could not believe just how much my life was shifted within a fortnight. These individuals wanted to hear from me, desired to listen to me read and talk about that reading. Looking back, I still have the photographs, this group of Romanian children are to blame for what I do today. A lot of them wrote to me for years before they also grew up and went to college.
Romania opened doors for me and I moved on to spend two years on a Greek island, being an english tutor to marginally better off children. If you simply imagined the scene with a brand-new teacher on a Greek island enjoying the time of his life, studying in the sun each and every single day, beginning the job at 5pm and ending at 9pm, then you would be right. It was magnificent. It may appear odd that I would wish to return to Scotland then however, the call of the big town was too much. I returned to teacher training in the Jordanhill campus at Strathclyde University and also spent far too long missing lectures, drinking cheap beer and creating a love of country music on the jukebox of the campus pub.
I started working in Duncanrig Secondary in 1999 and have been there ever since. I really like it. In addition to teaching English, I have been a magazine editor, platform director, head of basketball uniform design and a coach. In what other tasks would you encounter such diversity of activity? Who would have thought I’d become a teacher? Certainly not one of my uni buddies.
In a previous lifetime, I had been unemployed for a while during the Thatcher-led eighties. I labored on factory floors, in stores, managing healthcare equipment in hospitals; I worked for weeks on night shift, twilight shifts in addition to 9am to 6pm day changes. What I recall from those days isn’t the job I did. I probably could not distinguish 1 day by the next. I remember a few fantastic friends, some excellent laughs but nothing regarding the tasks I did. I read however. Daily. Each lunch break. I invested some time in bookshops and libraries. I read testimonials. I was not university educated but that I could see that this is something. This was a lifetime. A year of night-time courses from Monday to Thursday — 7pm before 9.30pm — got me to college and that I never really looked back again. But, I understood it had been studying that got me there. I might just happen to be an English teacher. Now I work in a building that has a library. How perfect is that?
When I was being truthful, I do not look back in my first four or even five Years of teaching particularly fondly. Learning the ropes, inducing the lows. When I see student teachers today I use the analogy of learning how to drive as a great contrast for teaching. In the start, you clutch closely onto your steering wheel/lesson program. You see nothing else. Everything outside of that is beyond your grasp and frightening. Soon you start to unwind and look down the street a little. Afterwards, everything appears natural. Nothing spans you. Experience is the only thing. You develop into yourself. You eventually become a teacher. Finally.
Since those first couple of years that the staff room walls have fell down replace by a Personal Learning Network that enriches my understanding, supports my instruction and gives the largest staff space I could ever desire. Through both Twitter and blogging, my schooling life has come alive. I am part of a group of like-minded teachers trying to spread the concept that Scottish Instruction can and will change when we need it to. We attempt to accentuate the positive adding a wholesome dose of realism as we proceed. But we love our jobs rather, not a day goes by where we all repent doing so.
If you are intending to tackle a lifetime in the classroom, then be aware that this is no ordinary job. It will consume you absolutely at times. It’ll make you laugh and cry, sometimes in precisely the exact same moment. You may convince yourself at least one time each day that you cannot do it. That never actually goes away. However, when you get it right — that is all the time – if your courses burst with learning, once the students only get what it is you are attempting to perform, then it’s, with no doubt, the best job on the planet. Your days will be filled with all of a sudden — laughter, tears, anger, frustration and total happiness. You may arrive in these long vacations a mess of your former self. But that’s the reason why the holidays are all there. To refresh and recharge, to go back to a regular lifestyle — to a degree. Show me a teacher who does not find a lesson potential in only about all that comes their way. And every year you’ll be desperate to get back in the classroom, back to the school and the community. I find myself excited when I see familiar basketball hoodies with the school logo on it out in the street. To talk to former students and find how their life has changed since I taught them
Teaching is what I do and I do it well. It took me quite a while to find teaching and also for it to find me. I will not do anything else today. I still see those university buddies from time to time. One or two people have become teachers. The others? Well, with what issue would you believe we encircle them?